#LibPub Sessions 4 & 5: Scholarly Publishing and Reference Books -and comics!

Screen Shot from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia
Screen Shot from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia

I‘ve been so busy I just couldn’t find the time/energy to write a post for the fourth session of our Libraries and Publishing module at #citylis last week. But here I am!

Blogging is a great way of leaving a public register -even if limited- of the module sessions; I also like to feel like we are sharing a little bit of what happens within the four walls of the lecture theatre with other interested parties out there. Blogging therefore is definitely well worth the effort, but sometimes it’s just very hard to do it as regularly as one would like to.

Anyway, our fourth session last week was about scholarly publishing, which is one of my favourite topics. I really enjoyed being able to dedicate a whole session to it. We focused on scholarly publishing in the UK and I aimed at presenting a general picture of academic journal publishing today, what it means and how it generally works, particularly in relation to libraries and users.

We looked at some reasons why libraries cancel journal subscriptions and went over the “serials crisis”, gradually moving towards open access publishing, the different options out there, the differences between editorial workflow, access type and business models; briefly mentioned institutional/national mandates, as well as challenges and opportunities posed by openness, including licensing and atttitudes towards intellectual property.

Gosh Comics London: The Culture of Comics
Gosh Comics London: The Culture of Comics

This week a group of us also did a “research field trip” to two Central London comic book shops, Gosh! Comics and Forbidden Planet. This was an activity related to our third session, on comic book publishing and libraries. Though both shops sell comics they are two completely different establishments, and we went there hoping to get some insights into what different strategies they use to organise, classify and display their stock. We also came out with some nice books! (Thank you to those who came last Tuesday or who visited the shops in other days on your own!).

Gosh! Comics window... The Encyclopedia... #LIbPub everywhere!
Gosh! Comics window… The Encyclopedia… #LIbPub everywhere!

Tomorrow, for session 5, the topic is the past, present and future of reference book publishing. I have preapred two case studies, Palgrave Macmillan and Oxford University Press, to present an overview of how these two major publishers work, focusing specifically on their online products.

We will also have the honour of welcoming Dr Katharine Schopflin who will talk to us about her research in book history on encyclopaedias as a form of the book. Her lecture is titled “Encyclopaedias: publishers, librarians and end-users”, and will provide an overview of the status of the encyclopaedia from its origins to the present, inviting us “to consider whether the encyclopaedia has a generic signature which carries beyond the material form of the book.”